Braised Pork Ragu Pasta is the ultimate, cozy weather, winter comfort food for special occasions and comforting weeknight dinners alike. It’s unbelievably flavorful, rich, filled with concentrated tomato flavor, and tender, fall-apart, slow-simmered pork. It’s elegant, but surprisingly simple to make. If you need a dish to impress, this is it!
I don’t even know how to begin, other than to say that this pork ragu should be the dictionary definition for comfort food. There’s honestly nothing better, nothing more comforting, and nothing cozier than slow braised pork on top of a bowl of pasta. Literally nothing better. And this dish just happens to encompass my two favorite food groups: pork, and pasta. I say that kind of jokingly, but I’m 100% serious. Those two would have to be my favorite foods in the world, beating potatoes by a hair. But that’s neither here nor there! Let’s chat about this magical ragu.
Other than the fact that the flavor alone of this ragu (not to mention it’s stunning) leaves me pretty much speechless, it couldn’t be easier to make, and it’s all made in ONE pot! Yep, no dirtying a bunch of dishes here. I know we all love that.
It gets braised (just a fancy word for slow-simmering or baking at a relatively low temperature for an extended period of time) in one pot, so all of that ridiculous flavor from the seared pork, red wine, and herbs gets locked in!
It all begins with searing some pork shoulder. Boneless pork shoulder, to be exact. Seasoned liberally with salt and pepper, and seared in a little olive oil to get that golden brown, beautiful crust. We get to keep allllll that flavor from the pork fat in the pot, and it serves as the basis for this incredible dish. Don’t be shy with getting a good sear on the pork – it makes all the difference! Color = flavor.
For the pork, I get boneless pork shoulder, because it’s easier to work with. Usually, I’m all for bone-in meats when I’m looking to lock in and develop tons of flavor, but here, we want to use boneless! I like to cut mine into 1-inch or so cubes, and I also like to trim off any large sections of fat. Don’t forget to season the heck out of it either – I’m talking at least a teaspoon of salt on the pork alone, and a good amount of black pepper. Pork ragu really needs to be seasoned well – the heartiness of this dish really allows for it. So don’t be afraid to season season season!
Aside from the pork giving us a lot of the flavor in this ragu, we’ve also got aromatics in the form of onion, celery, and carrot, garlic, red wine, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes AND tomato sauce, bay leaf, and fresh herbs. And one more secret ingredient – allspice! I like adding some kind of warm spice to my pork dishes, whether it’s cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, or cloves. Something about the hint of the warm, sweet spices and pork is just perfection.
Everything cooks down for about 2.5 hours, and we’re left with the most concentrated pork ragu goodness.
Can you even? It’s pretty incredible what braising can do. I could honestly just eat a bowl of straight up pork ragu sans pasta and call it a night. It’s SO unbelievably good. There’s no other way to explain it!
If you didn’t want to serve this over pasta, you could totally serve it over some creamy parmesan polenta, or even potatoes! It would also be delicious tossed with some pillowy gnocchi. But then again, what isn’t?!
If you’re at all intimidated by making something so seemingly elegant, stop right there! This pork ragu is honestly SO easy. Surprisingly easy, in fact. There are just a few techniques and core steps to getting this pork ragu to be perfect.
This is how you make it!
- Begin by liberally seasoning your pork shoulder cubes with salt and pepper, and sear them on all sides until they’re deeply golden brown (it might take a few batches!). Then, set the pork aside in a bowl while you sauté the aromatics.
- Now we’ve got all of that incredible pork fat to work with for our sautéing! First the garlic, then the onion, carrot, and celery. Always the base for something good.
- After the aromatics sauté for a few minutes, we add the tomato paste and red wine, and let that reduce for a couple of minutes. I love reducing the tomato paste with the wine before I add any of the tomatoes, because it really helps develop an extra layer of flavor that you wouldn’t get if you added everything at once!
- Next up, are the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, spices, and herbs. And, the pork goes back into the pot!
- Then, we simmer. For a good 2 – 2 1/2 hours. No less! We’ve gotta slow-braise, reduce the tomatoes into nearly jam, and get that pork as tender as possible. Don’t peek too often! Let it do its thing.
- Once you’re ready to eat, cook your pasta, and reserve a little pasta water to help thin out the sauce a little bit. I like using a wide noodle for this ragu. Something like pappardelle, tagliatelle, or mafaldine are all great choices!
- Toss everything together, and serve with lots of freshly grated parmiggiano reggiano. The real stuff. No pre-grated parm for this meal!
So you can see, nothing crazy! One pot, and just a little patience is all you need.
Or maybe a lot of patience.
I can’t tell you how much you need to go make this, but you need to go make this. Whether you need some real-deal cooking therapy, or if it’s just for yourself on a lazy weekend, or if it’s for date night, or for a dinner party, this is the stuff of dreams. The kind of meal that puts a huge, giddy smile on my face, and anyone who tries it.
And if you’re looking for a quicker pasta, that’s just as delicious, but a different kind of delicious, this green olive pasta is what you need in your life.
Don’t forget to share a photo on Instagram and tag me @spicesinmydna if you make this recipe! Nothing makes me happier than seeing what you create in the kitchen!
Braised Pork Ragu Pasta
Braised Pork Ragu Pasta is the ultimate, cozy weather, winter comfort food for special occasions and comforting weeknight dinners alike. It's unbelievably flavorful, rich, filled with concentrated tomato flavor, and tender, fall-apart, slow-simmered pork. It's elegant, but surprisingly simple to make. If you need a dish to impress, this is it!
- 2 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cubed into 1'' chunks, and trimmed of big pieces of fat
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 1 celery stalk, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3/4 cup dry red wine*
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 pound pasta of your choice (pappardelle, tagliatelle, or mafaldine are my top choices for this!)
- 1/2-3/4 cup pasta water*
- freshly grated parmiggiano reggiano, for serving
Begin by seasoning your pork cubes with 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper until evenly coated. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add your pork in an even layer, and sear for 3-4 minutes per side until deeply golden (you'll need to do this in batches). Set pork aside on a plate or in a bowl.
Lower heat slightly and add garlic. Sauté for 10-20 seconds, stirring freqently to ensure it doesn't burn. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and sauté for another 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste and wine, and cook for 1-2 minutes, letting the wine and tomato paste reduce and thicken. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, allspice, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir to combine. Add the pork and its juices and stir. Cover and simmer over medium to medium-low heat for 2-2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally (maybe 3-4 times), or until pork is falling apart and sauce has significantly reduced.
Shred the pork with two forks (you can do this easily while the pork is in the pot - no need to take it out, it should just fall apart), and remove the thyme and rosemary sprigs and bay leaf. Season to taste the ragu with additional salt and pepper if desired.
Cook your pasta according to package directions (make sure you salt your water!), or until just al dente. Remember to reserve your pasta water (I just scoop a bunch out with a large mug or heat-safe glass measuring cup!) Drain pasta and add it back into the pot. Add a few scoops of ragu and a splash of pasta water, tossing until the ragu coats the pasta, adding more pasta water as needed. Add some freshly grated parmiggiano reggiano and toss once more. Portion into bowls, and top with more ragu. Serve with extra parm.
*Make sure you're using a good quality red wine here - something you'd enjoy drinking. I used a Cabernet Sauvignon, but any full-bodied, dry red wine will work great. The flavor only intensifies over the cooking time, so make sure it's good.
*It's so easy to forget to scoop out your pasta water - to ensure you don't forget, keep a mug or heat-safe glass measuring cup right next to the pot to remind you!
*Ragu can be made up to 2 days ahead of time.